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DOE announces $25M for plastics recycling R&D

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Washington, has announced up to $25 million in funding for plastics recycling research and development (R&D). The funding opportunity announcement is part of the department’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, which is a program that launched in November 2019 that aims to accelerate innovations in plastics recycling technologies.

“The Trump administration is committed to advancing plastic recycling technologies and the manufacturing of new plastics that are recyclable by design,” says Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes. “Through the Plastics Innovation Challenge, DOE is proud to take part in the development of technologies and strategies to improve how we manage plastics within and beyond America’s borders.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Office and Bioenergy Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy issued the joint funding opportunity announcement, titled “BOTTLE: Bio-Optimized Technologies to Keep Thermoplastics Out of Landfills and the Environment.” With up to $25 million in funding available, the opportunity will support the development of new plastics. The opportunity will also help develop recycling strategies that can break existing plastics into chemical building blocks that can be used to make higher-value products, DOE reports in a news release on the funding.

In addition, DOE also announced the launch of a new BOTTLE Consortium to further advance the Plastics Innovation Challenge. According to DOE, the National Laboratory-led BOTTLE Consortium is focused on designing new plastics and recycling strategies in collaboration with industry and academia. The BOTTLE Consortium currently consists of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Funding opportunity announcement topic areas include the following:

  • Highly recyclable or biodegradable plastics,
  • Novel methods for deconstructing and upcycling existing plastics, and
  • BOTTLE Consortium collaborations to tackle challenges in plastic waste.

DOE reports that the application process for this funding will include two phases: a concept paper and a full application. All papers are due on April 22, and full applications are due on June 18. The complete funding opportunity announcement can be viewed online at www.energy.gov/plastics-innovation-challenge.